Humorous Dangdut

It is believed that humorous dangdut was presented as a mediator to diffused the clash of class between Indonesian popular music – because humor can dissolved a conflict in human communication. In the 1970s, dangdut was broadcasted on televesion, but as a sub-category to Indonesian pop, and wasn’t even considered to be a musical genre of its own. At that time, instead of featuring well-known dangdut artists, television programs devoted to dangdut opted to headlined dangdut groups from prestigious universities such as University of Indonesia, alma mater of members from Orkes Moral Pancaran Sinar Petromak, and Gadjah Mada University, alma mater of members from Jaran Goyang and Orkes Mahasiswa Jet Set.

The voice of dangdut musicians and audiences was replaced by students, who performed parodied version of dangdut lyrics. Humorous dangdut that sprouted among students, and was broadcasted on television, was considered to have the ability to bridge the gap between socioeconomic classes. It is also considered ‘safe’ by the governement as it didn’t expose social concerns especially that were happening among the working class. The emergence of humorous dangdut on television was one of the supporting factors in the soaring popularity of dangdut, which then threatened the prominence of Indonesian rock and pop music in the ‘70s. Humorous dangdut held a role in making dangdut relatively more acceptable in all social classes up to this day.

Parody is an act of duplicating or imitating something in order to create a joke. According to records, musical parodies in Indonesia were starting to appear in the 1960s, during which Bing Slamet formed a group called Los Gilos, which essentially was a comedy group with a musical essence. Meanwhile, the parody of dangdut music started when the comedy group Warkop Prambors (who later changed their name to Warkop DKI) was conceived. The group used a song composed by Orkes Melayu Bangladesh as an opening tune for their Warkop radio broadcast. The selection of a dangdut track as an opening tune was considered to be the forerunner in familiarizing dangdut to young people, especially students, considering that Prambors as a radio station in 1970s never played dangdut tracks, safe for that opening tune of the Warkop broadcast. Warkop Prambors was also one of the initiators that birthed the parody group Orkes Moral Pancaran Sinar Petromak, which eventually became a mainstay music group that accompanied Warkop Prambors during their off-air performances. The group’s name, Orkes Moral Pancaran Sinar Petromak (OM PSP), was a pun of Orkes Melayu Pancaran Muda and Orkes Melayu Sinar Kemala, two renowned orkes Melayu groups of the ‘70s. They then added the word ‘petromak’, an oil-lamp generally used by street vendors, to exaggerate the stereotype of lower class humor and the name’s irony.

OM PSP not only parodies the names of popular Malay orchestras, but also parodyes popular songs such as "Hello Dolly" popularized by Louis Armstrong, "Pinch-pinch" popularized by Koes Plus, and "My Bonnie"

The variety of comedic elements brought forth by OM PSP made humorous dangdut more acceptable by the wider community. Hence why many of the social issues associated with dangdut became more malleable, because it was fused with humor as was done by OM PSP. The craze for humorous dangdut, or what was often referred to as intellectual dangdung among students, was increasingly becoming after OM PSP’s appearance on TVRI (Republic of Indonesia’s national TV channel). OM PSP’s dangdut version of “Hello Dolly”, made popular by Louis Armstrong, resonated with the elite. And as a result of that, people from the upper classes were starting to glance at dangdut, a music that was once synonymous with the preference of middle to lower class. Humorous dangdut created a shift of value in the credo of dangdut at that time.

Even so, social problems associated with dangdut lingered to this day. Issues on morals, class, stereotypes and ideology were still attached to dangdut. This matter can be examined through the present-time successors of OM PSP, who, more or less, came out of a similar background as their predecessor. A few groups that can be categorized as present-day humorous dangdut groups are Sekarwati, The Produk Gagal, Hamba Allah and Orkes Moral Pengantar Minum Racun (OM PMR) – who are recently became more active after a ten-year hiatus. These groups were the only ones that could freely grace television shows and programs that weren’t specifically made for dangdut. Take OM PMR as an example. They were given the opportunity to performed on Net TV’s morning news show, Indonesia Morning Show, that had never invited dangdut artist to perform. Hamba Allah once experienced a similar thing. The dangdut group, with members that are University of Indonesia’s alumni, were asked to perform on Sapa Pagi Indonesia, Kompas TV’s morning news show, which had previously never invited dangdut artist.

In conclusion, based on the circumstances that were previously explained, dangdut, with all its associated social issues, still exist in the community. Yet, to this day humorous dangdut, with its various articulations and strategies, is able to work as a diffuser, mediating any social issues that surround dangdut, making it more acceptable by a wider community.